Threadworms, also known as pinworms, are the most common worm infection in the United States. This type of parasitic infection is typically an issue among young children, generally due to their lack of hand washing. Adults can become just as easily infected, especially those with large families. Some infected individuals show no signs whatsoever, making these parasites even more difficult to manage. And when signs are present, they are typically internal. There are, however, a few key things to look for.
When searching for signs of threadworms, it's important to know how they look. Like most parasites, threadworms are very small, measuring just around 1 centimetre, with female worms growing as long as 1.5 centimetres. A threadworm actually resembles its name with its fine white cotton threadlike cylindrical body. The body tapers at both ends and if you look carefully, you will see it moving.
Restlessness and Irritability
An individual infected with threadworms can become very restless and may have difficulty sleeping at night. This is because the parasites can cause irritation by interrupting the body's normal routine to eliminate toxins through the liver. Children with a threadworm infection are generally more irritable and may seem out of sorts. Nighttime teeth grinding (also called bruxism) is another common sign of threadworms. This may be caused from the restlessness and anxiety that occurs when the parasite releases waste and toxins.
The most notorious sign of threadworms is an unpleasant one, as it involves itching around the anus. Itching can become quite intense and can cause a child's bottom to become red and inflamed from too much scratching. The itching tends to be worse at night when threadworms try to migrate out of the anus. This is also the area where the female worm lays her eggs and it is one place to actually check for the visible presence of threadworms. An infected person may also experience an itchy nose.
While it is not as common as other symptoms, stomach pain can be another sign of threadworms. This is because they affect the intestine. Decreased appetite or loss of appetite may be another result of this gastrointestinal upset. An infected person could also experience weight loss. Threadworms do not typically cause illness, but they can cause urinary tract infections. As such, an infected child may begin to wet his bed.